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ICJ confirms Aust to return Timor docs

The United Nation’s top court has confirmed it’s authorised Australia to return documents seized from a lawyer representing East Timor in a dispute over a controversial oil and gas treaty between the two countries.

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Dili took Canberra to the International Court of Justice in The Hague seeking the return of sensitive documents seized by ASIO during a December 2013 raid on lawyer Bernard Collaery’s Canberra office.

In late March 2015 Australia indicated it wished to return the documents.

“The court considers that it should now authorise such return while maintaining the obligation for Australia to keep under seal that material until its transfer has been completed under the supervision of a representative appointed for that purpose by Timor-Leste,” the ICJ said in an order dated April 22 but only made public on Wednesday.

The court requested Australia and East Timor inform the ICJ when the documents have been returned.

They relate to East Timor’s challenge to the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea.

Dili has accused Canberra of bugging its cabinet office during 2004 treaty negotiations.

In an interim order in March 2014 the ICJ ordered Australia not to use the documents and keep them under lock and key until further notice.

The court also banned Canberra from spying on communications between Dili and its lawyers.

Earlier this week East Timor’s government issued a statement saying it appreciated Canberra’s decision to return the seized documents.

“After 16 months of vigorously defending its right to take and keep the documents the Australian government has now written to the ICJ stating that it wishes to return them,” the statement said.

“On 22 April the court responded to the Australian letter authorising the return of the documents, still sealed, under the supervision of a representative of Timor-Leste.”

Dili on Monday said it was reserving its rights on the broader dispute over the maritime treaty.

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Boxing fans accuse Pacquiao of concealing injury

“The lawsuits are factually wrong and legally wrong, and we expect they will be dismissed in due course,” Daniel Petrocelli, an attorney for Pacquiao and Top Rank Inc, a promotions company that represents Pacquiao and was also sued, said in a statement on Wednesday.

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One of the lawsuits also named as defendants Mayweather, Mayweather’s promotions company, and several businesses involved in broadcasting and promoting the fight: Time Warner unit Home Box Office Inc, CBS Corp unit Showtime Networks Inc, AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and DirecTV.

Spokespeople for Mayweather and the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Pacquiao, a native of the Philippines, lost on a unanimous decision to Mayweather, an American, in a heavily hyped welterweight showdown in Las Vegas on Saturday that was expected to be the top grossing prize fight of all time.

Barely one hour after the contest ended, Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, said the 36-year-old southpaw had been hampered by an ‘old’ injury to his right shoulder.

Neither Pacquiao nor his team appeared to have informed the Nevada Athletic Commission about the shoulder issue until a couple of hours before the start of the fight when they asked for an anti-inflammatory injection.

When Pacquiao’s team filled out its pre-fight medical questionnaire on Friday, a query about any shoulder injury was marked “No” before the form was signed by Pacquiao and his adviser.

According to media reports, Pacquiao was due to undergo surgery this week for a torn rotator cuff.

(Reporting by David Ingram in New York; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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Israeli FA presses Blatter in effort to avert suspension

The Palestine Football Association (PFA) accuses Israel of hampering its activities and restricting the movement of players between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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Israel cites security concerns for the restrictions it imposes.

Blatter met Israeli Football Association (IFA) chairman Ofer Eini and chief executive Rotem Kamer to discuss the PFA request for the vote at a FIFA Congress on May 29. FIFA said it would host a further meeting between Einer and his Palestinian counterpart Jibril Rajoub in the next few days.

“FIFA President Blatter reiterated his position that any member association that is fulfilling its statutory duties should not be suspended,” a FIFA statement said. “This would also apply to the IFA as long as they fulfil such duties.”

The statement appeared to offer hope for the IFA, who have not themselves been accused of violating any FIFA statutes and have argued that they cannot control the actions of Israel’s security forces.

Earlier, an IFA official told Reuters that Eini and Kamer would urge Blatter to use his influence to strike the PFA proposal from the Congress agenda.

If FIFA were to suspend Israel, it would bar all its teams and clubs from competing in international events, including World Cup qualifications.

Although suspensions are not uncommon, the world body has taken such action mainly when a government has intervened in its football association’s affairs.

Israel is currently competing in the Euro 2016 qualifying event and its clubs will join European cup tournaments in July, when Israel is also due to host the European women’s under-19 championships. Suspension could force the event to be moved.

For the Palestinian proposal to pass, it would need the approval of 75 percent of FIFA’s 209 member associations.

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In a letter to all FIFA members, Eini appealed for them to reject the proposal, saying it was “a flagrant move that seeks to mix politics with sport – something that is completely contrary to FIFA’s vision”.

Before leaving Tel Aviv he added: “Our meeting with (Blatter) is very significant as we endeavour to prevent the possibility of a vote … it is a major part of our efforts.”

The IFA official, who declined to be named, said Eini and Kamer would also meet German FA chief Wolfgang Niersbach to seek more support.

As well as restrictions on movement, The PFA has cited curbs Israel places on the import into the Palestinian territories of sports equipment and visits by foreign teams and individuals.

Two years ago, FIFA established a task force which included Blatter, the Israeli and Palestinian FA chiefs and the heads of the European and Asian confederations to try to resolve the Palestinian complaints.

Blatter said at the time that he was determined to overcome the impasse but last week Rajoub told Reuters that nothing had improved and repeated that Israel was “persecuting Palestine footballers, athletes and the movement of sporting equipment”.

He has also complained that Israel should not include five teams in its leagues from West Bank settlements and about racism against Arabs in Israeli football, a claim the IFA official said was “ridiculous and cantankerous”.

One Israeli club, Beitar Jerusalem, has refused to employ any Arab players and its fans regular chant racist abuse for which it has repeatedly faced disciplinary action but all other top clubs regularly employ Arab players and since the 1970s, Arabs have played in Israel’s national team.

Eini’s letter stated that last year, Blatter appointed Cyprus FA president, Costakis Koutsokoumnis, to go to the region as an observer and gather information on the situation.

He wrote that Koutsokoumnis reported that the IFA was not involved in determining Israeli travel policy and that FIFA, together with the IFA and the PFA, should try to help guide Israeli security agencies’ procedures to ease the situation.

(Additional reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Giles Elgood)

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Azarenka suffers match-point meltdown in Williams loss

Azarenka served for the match at 6-5 and 40-0 in the third set but fell to pieces.

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Williams fought back to 30-40 before Azarenka served three consecutive double faults to lose the game and was then defeated in the resulting tiebreak.

Williams eased through her first two matches but had a much tougher test against the hard-hitting Azarenka, ranked 31, who is rediscovering her form after an injury plagued 2014.

Both players had their serves broken in a tight first set before Williams came back from 5-1 down in the tiebreak to win 7-5.

The American looked in control as she broke in the fifth game of the next set but then lost her concentration.

She started making unforced errors and threw her racket to the ground as she went on to drop her next two service games and the set.

Azarenka, a former world number one and twice Australian Open winner, again came from a break down in the decisive set and was poised to get the better of Williams but the tension got to her in a spectacular stumble.

Williams, who is gearing up for Roland Garros where she is looking to win her 20th grand slam title, will now play the winner of Carla Suarez Navarro’s game against Ana Ivanovic.

Defending champion Maria Sharapova needed all her battling qualities to beat France’s Caroline Garcia.

The Russian edged through 6-2 4-6 7-5 after fending off a brilliant comeback from the world number 28.

Fourth seed Petra Kvitova played some of her best tennis of the week to see off Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-4 in little more than an hour, committing only eight unforced errors.

The powerful Czech will play Romania’s Irina Begu for a place in the semi-finals while Sharapova’s next opponent will be former world number one Caroline Wozniacki who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-2.

In the men’s draw, David Ferrer faced a repeat of his second round match in Madrid last year but this time had no trouble crushing fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos 6-4 6-0, while sixth seed Tomas Berdych beat Richard Gasquet 7-6(3) 7-5.

(The story was refiled to make clear Azarenka’s three double faults were not all on match point)

(Reporting by Tim Hanlon in Barcelona; editing by Toby Davis)

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Denmark declines to provide area for Serbian fans in Copenhagen

In effect, that means organised groups of Serbian supporters will not be able to attend the match, although a Serbian football official said individual Serbian fans will be let in.

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To ensure safety and assume liability, each country provides ticket sales for its own fans in the qualifying matches, the DBU said. But the Serbian Football Association declined to handle tickets for its fans.

The Union of European Football Associations — European football’s administrative body — “has informed us that if the Serbian federation do not want to take responsibility for their own supporters, any conflicts would be DBU’s responsibility, both financial and disciplinary. That responsibility we do not feel we can undertake,” the DBU head of security, Henrik Kjaer Jensen, said in a statement.

The first game between the two countries was played behind closed doors in Belgrade after Serbia got a two-game crowd ban for fan violence in a previous home qualifier against Albania. That match was abandoned after a drone stunt triggered a player brawl and a pitch invasion by Serbian fans.

Well-behaved individual Serbian fans who turn up should be able to enter the stadium with no problems, Serbian FA Vice President Ivan Curkovic said.

“I don’t think the Danish authorities will actually go to those lengths and examine what language each fan speaks as they approach the stadium,” Curkovic was quoted as saying by the Belgrade newspaper Informer.

According to Curkovic, the Danish FA wants to prevent organised Serbian fan groups from entering the venue.

“We have already paid dearly for the misbehaviour of our supporters in the  past,” he said. “They keep lighting flares and setting off fireworks, but I believe that decent people who just turn up on their own and buy a ticket won’t have a problem.”

(Reporting by Ole Mikkelsen, additional reporting by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Larry King)

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